``What are you going to do for us?'' asked Conshohocken resident Edith Stout, 83, grasping Hoeffel's hand.
``Try to give you good government,'' Hoeffel said.
``Try to do something about medication,'' she said. ``Those pharmaceutical companies are robbers!'' Stout, a widow on a fixed income, said she could barely afford to pay $100 every few months for drugs to keep her blood pressure down.
Hoeffel replied that he would continue to support using a projected 10-year, $1.7 trillion surplus to shore up the Social Security system, and that he had been pushing for a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare recipients.
Hoeffel, a former Montgomery County commissioner and state representative, has made constituent service a bedrock of his first term in Congress. He has alternated his ``Saturdays With Joe'' town meetings in borough halls and township buildings throughout the county with Saturday morning supermarket visits.
When people see him, they tend to bring up ``school taxes, Medicare questions, retirement security, and livability,'' Hoeffel said between flesh-pressings later Saturday morning at the Acme store on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr.
``The town meetings are where the really interested people who have a problem or an opinion come out,'' he said. ``It gives us some pretty good discussions and gives a much better opportunity to get into issues. Most of the discussions are quick here. I see more people, generally, because most people are just here to shop.''
When Alberta Bertino, of Plymouth, approached Hoeffel to ask about treatment and care for her 63-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer's disease, Hoeffel said he was supporting efforts to double federal funding for the National Institutes of Health. Hoeffel told Jon Lorenz, a Whitemarsh resident who shares Hoeffel's abhorrence of suburban sprawl, that he was pushing for federal policies to encourage local governments to manage growth and plan regionally.
Some, however, simply rushed by Hoeffel's modest entourage, eager to finish their shopping and go home. ``I don't have time for this,'' one woman said as she waved away Hoeffel's extended hand.
Those who took the time to chat seemed pleased.
``He answered my questions very well,'' Stout said as she slipped a couple of frozen entrees into her cart. ``I just hope everything he says comes true.''